Time has shown me that if something can go wrong, it will. You can create as many fail safes as you want, but many times they are stop gaps at best.
What is danger?
I have been a part of and observed many conversations regarding concealed carry and holster positions. They are not all the same, some are more dangerous than other. Before folks check out or roll their eyes, let’s define danger as blood volume loss. The more blood volume loss the worse off you are going to be so a holster position with a higher capacity for blood loss in a worse case scenario is not the same as one with less blood volume loss. To further define blood volume loss, any injury will produce blood loss. Injuries to the areas with major blood carrying vessels will naturally create the scenario for more blood loss. Next, let’s define areas where blood volume loss is generally high.
What’s the deal with positions
Since the holster we will be discussing here are on the waistline we will exclude for the moment any other holster location. Holsters along the anterior portion of the body will have access to the femoral artery region. Should the artery be punctured, damaged or severed major blood volume will occur. The blood loss is rapid and even trained personnel will have a difficult time shunting the artery due to it’s location, access being limited. An injury to the anterior region of the waistline will be classified as high risk of blood volume loss. Holster positions along the posterior portion of the body can have access to the femoral region, but since the femoral region is anterior of the body it is less likely and therefore would be classified as medium risk of blood volume loss. Holster positions along the lateral plane have less likely chance of major blood volume loss due to bone structure obscuring the femoral region and would be classified as low risk of blood volume loss.
Keep things in perspective
None of what I have discussed has implied that any type of injury should be taken lightly. Quite to the contrary, some injuries or in this case the risk of injury need to be taken more seriously. While I have never witnessed first hand any gunshot wounds to the anterior or posterior regions of the waistline I have seen quite a few along the lateral plane. So where are these holster positions specifically on the body. The anterior would be holster positions at the 11:00 and 1:00 position, the posterior would be at the 5:00 position and lateral would be the 3:00 position. The 3:00 position is referenced as strong side and while there may be a lot more injuries in this position I think some perspective is in order.
Ouch, that will leave a mark
This position represents the vast majority of holster positions both for open carry such as law enforcement and concealed carry such as in the waist band. Both of the injuries I witnessed happened with open top belt holsters in the strong side position. Both of them had similar results, which was the bullet entering mid thigh and traveling down to the foot. Incidentally, both of them occurred while reholstering and the one I can vividly remember happened in the parking lot with a double action pistol that was in single action mode. The victims here sustained what I consider serious injuries and were both transported to the hospital, much to my disappointment I do not know what happened to them after the incident since I moved on to other pastures.
Climbing the risk ladder
Why is this relevant, simple. We are human and we will and often times make mistakes. Create an environment where the opportunity for mistakes is compounded by high repetitions and you have a recipe for disaster. As I have mentioned before, professional instructors have a duty to run safe evolutions, to error on the side of safety when doubt exists. There is no question in my mind that appendix carry is not for everyone, there are certain body types I strongly suggest avoid this position. Having the right gear is only part of the equation, even the best of gear can still be dangerous and when in this case the body type creates a situation where the muzzle is pointed directly inwards it amplifies the risk. Again, add high repetitions and the risk climbs.
Error on the side of caution
Now, add to the equation after market equipment who’s safety is suspect and it moves more along the incompetence of the instructor. In my last class we had two guns with after market fire control systems that would fire two to three and sometimes four rounds with one trigger pull and it should be blatantly obvious of how dangerous this situation has become. Yet, here I am discussing this issue again because there are those in the industry that do not respect the dangers present. They would rather down play or side step the real issue. Now, consider the instructor’s perspective with students of varying body types then the craze for after market products especially fire control systems. It has placed us in a position where safety comes into question.
You are dead until you safe your own life
Some have said it is fear, you are damn right it is fear. But I would rather look at it as a healthy respect. While I physically react with fear when I’m jumping out of airplane, I mentally respect the act and the consequences. I do not take it lightly and one of my Master Chief’s during a jump brief was asked if he had anything to put out. He stood and in a very clam manner stated we are all dead until we pull the ripcord. If someone is trying to diminish the danger we see with holster positions anterior of the waistline you need to be suspect.
Mistakes are possible at any stage of skill level, the worse are those who believe they are immune from mistakes. Go forth and do good work in whatever holster position you decide to carry, but don’t take any of them lightly.